The first is student debt. It's a major issue for the majority of students in music school. When I chose to go to graduate school for music, I had to decide whether the education I would receive was worth the massive amount of student debt I would be taking on. I chose to get my master's degree at Peabody. For me, it's been worth it. The training I've received has made the difference between me having a music career and having to abandon my passion. The support of the federal government for student loans is something that has enabled me to have the life I have dreamed of having. My family doesn't make enough to pay my ridiculously expensive tuition, and honestly, I wouldn't dream of asking them to. At the same time, as a student in my early twenties, there was no way I would have tens of thousands of dollars saved away in order to spend on my education. Loans were literally the only way I could afford my education. This is one reason that I personally support President Obama - I believe in government support for American students.
Many of you may know that Governor Romney has vowed to eliminate the National Endowment for the Arts and PBS if he is elected. This brings us to another crucial question in this election: where should funding for the arts come from? Are the performing arts essential to our society? What would we be losing if the NEA and PBS were gone?
I don't need to write a lengthy opinion piece explaining my views on this: I believe that the performing arts are essential to our society. I believe that they do something incredible to the human soul, and I believe that without them all of our lives would be emptier. For this reason, too, I support President Obama. Karl Paulnack's welcome address at Boston University contains a lot of food for thought on the role of the arts in our society. I invite you to read it here.
Finally, I encourage you all, whatever your political beliefs, to vote. We musicians especially tend to get busy and caught up in our lives. I have heard colleagues say things like "I don't care about politics" or "All that matters is music." Yes. Music is at the heart of what we do, but we need to create a society that will support it, and us. And that is why, regardless of how many rehearsals, concerts, classes, lessons, and regardless of how much we need to practice, each and every one of us needs to get to the polls on Tuesday. We are part of society, and this presidential election is an opportunity for us to voice our views on the arts.
I hope you'll consider the fate of the performing arts when you go to the polls on Tuesday, for my sake, and the sake of millions of musicians, dancers, artists, actors, and all of us who labor to bring beauty into our world and to touch the souls of all who experience our work.